Many of us have trouble sleeping these days. We are so inundated by the events in the world we live in that once we snuggle between the sheets, our bodies eager for reprieve, but alas, the mind will simply not shut down. This is more often than not the case for me. I spend too much of my days and evenings wallowing in the dark world of politics, global affairs, and humanity in general, and when I go to bed, usually well past midnight, my mind refuses to cooperate. I tried the old wives-tale remedy of counting sheep a few times, but the thing is that as they jump the hurdle, one of my sheep inevitably trips over the hurdle, falls to the ground, then all the subsequent sheep trip over each other and pretty soon I have a huge pile of sheep struggling to get up, mauling one another, bleating loudly, and it is not conducive to sleep. Yesterday a friend mentioned that he had not slept well, so as I was telling him good-night last night, I advised him to “think happy thoughts … think about warm furry puppies and walks in a rainforest”.
3:30 a.m. – I lie awake thinking of Donald Buffoon Trump, bigots, racists, the water in Flint, Michigan and other noxious things, when I suddenly remembered my advice to my friend. Hmmmm … why not try my own advice? So, I smoked one last cigarette, took a soothing sip of water, turned the light out for the umpteenth time and snuggled with my pillow, closing my eyes and picturing my puppy (in real life I have 8 cats, no puppy)
So, the puppy began to come to life in my mind and before long I had a picture … I was lying in bed with a cute little ball of soft fluff happily licking my cheek. I named her Dalai after the Dalai Lama and I felt myself smile and begin to relax. I played with the puppy for a few minutes, got up and let her out in the backyard, then remembered about the walk in the rainforest. Now, I have never walked in a rainforest before, never even been in a rainforest, so I had to imagine, but that was the whole purpose of this exercise, to give my mind a break from reality. I decided to take Dalai along on my rainforest adventure, because what puppy doesn’t have a sense of adventure, right?
The rainforest was beautiful! Everything so green, dripping with moisture, the smell so fresh and clean, and a well-worn path beckoning me to follow. Dalai walked a few feet ahead, running happily, then dropping back to let me catch up. We walked like that for a long time, probably all of ten minutes or so. But then, suddenly, Dalai stopped, looked up at me with huge brown eyes and whimpered. I glanced at her, ready to tell her to “let’s get a move on”, when I noticed that she was soaking wet and shivering, her previously fluffy fur slick against her skin. My poor Dalai … I picked her up and wrapped her in something, perhaps a towel or a spare shirt, that I found in my backpack and we turned to leave the rainforest. Fast-forward … back home, I have dried and brushed Dalai, offered her warmed, leftover chicken, which she refused to even look at, and she continues to shiver. Now I am near tears, worried that I have killed my fluffy puppy before I even got a chance to really know her.
4:30 a.m. – I turn the light back on, light another cigarette, and now I know I will not sleep any time soon because I am much too worried about my imaginary puppy who is dying from our imaginary walk in the imaginary rainforest. Sigh.